Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Sabbatical at Thirst [3st] for the 2012 spring semester

A picture of the design office of Thirst [3st] in Chicago. The studio walls display some of the seminal and most interesting design artifacts of the late 20th and early 21st century. Photograph courtesy of Thirst.

On 21 October, David Versluis was notified by Dordt College Provost, Dr. Erik Hoekstra that the Dordt College Board of Trustees officially approved his proposal for a post-graduate, sabbatical leave of absence during the 2012 spring semester.

Following are a few key elements from Versluis’s proposal:

The main goal of this leave of absence is to investigate how developments in technology, business, and social priorities have impacted design education and practice in the 21st century. It is apparent that the changing qualities of culture and society have placed unique demands on design educators in preparing students in specialization toward fields such as service and interactive design.


We are a society that increasingly questions consumption and advertising, which traditionally is at the heart of the graphic design discipline. However, we also seem to demand and rely on a dynamic technological economy that affects many aspects of life. As a result there is an increased demand for service-based jobs as our country re-evaluates economic sustainability. People are demanding quality, reflective, and meaningful experiences in their world.

In the last 20 years, the general situation of design has moved from mainly:
  1. Single-artifact systems to design-language systems, focusing on a unified visual and semantic messages across multiple printed pieces.
  2. One-way communicative artifacts, such as brochures, to interactive artifacts, such as software.
  3. Designed artifacts to design thinking, where the focus of the design process is applied in the context of large-scale business, organizational or cultural problems.
  4. Commercial goods toward time-based, service design, which is about providing the resources for people in a system to learn, adapt and share the knowledge they gain about the world with other parts of the system. [1]
The objective of this leave of absence is to achieve the purpose of maintaining professional relevance and remaining academically current in the rapidly changing discipline of graphic design and design education. This effort would certainly and positively impact student learning by modeling inspiration and enthusiasm about design. In addition, departmental outreach would be further enhanced by faculty quality expertise gained through actual professional experiences that could be publicized. This indeed would translate into developing student confidence and building finer program expectations and program credibility.

During this time Versluis be working on site with the Thirst / Chicago design group with Rick Valicenti and his team of very talented and tech-savvy young designers. This is an opportunity to engage in working in one of the most imaginative design environments in the world.
  1. Kolko, Jon. “Remapping the Curriculum.” From “Voice” New Contexts/New Practices: Six Perspectives on Design Education. Ed. Julie Lasky. AIGA, 1 Dec. 2010. Web. 25 Feb. 2011.

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